Heinz Wittmer, his pregnant wife, Margret, and his 12-year-old son, Harry (from a previous marriage), arrived on Floreana in the summer of 1932. Life in Germany had grown difficult for the Wittmers. Like Friedrich, Heinz was a veteran, and after the war, he faced unemployment and mental trauma from his years in the trenches. He was depressed, economically insecure, and worried about his son’s poor health and failing eyesight; they could not afford to send Harry to a sanatorium, as doctors had advised.

The political climate also fueled the family’s desire to flee. Although Hitler had lost the recent presidential election, the Nazis were gaining power and he would soon be appointed Chancellor of Germany. The deciding factor, however, had been the newspaper reports about Dr. Friedrich Ritter and Dore Strauch living an idyllic life as a modern-day Adam and Eve. Wittmer believed that he and his family would be welcomed by the first Floreana settlers. He also hoped that Friedrich would assist with Margret’s upcoming delivery and Harry’s medical needs.

But from the start, the two couples did not get along. The Wittmers were pragmatic and down-to-earth, and could not relate to their neighbors’ cerebral approach to building Utopia. Dore and Margret’s accounts of life on Floreana often differed wildly; as the drama escalated, one would even accuse the other of murder.

Return to the Cast of Characters